December, Past and Present

Oh, Christmas Rat, Oh Christmas Rat…

Hey friends!  Anita’s still in beatdown/recovery mode from her pinched nerve, and keyboard typing is a no-no right now, so she asked me to take today. So here we are! Let’s talk about any special things you’ve done or are doing this time of year, either holiday-related or just because.

In D.C., I think the kids and I went to our local “festival of lights” thing at the nearby botanical garden every December until COVID hit. It’s park-and-walk rather than drive-through, one of those things with giant light displays in various shapes. When the girls were younger they loved it; when they were older and probably “too cool” for it, the twins were small, and so the girls still wanted to come … and we just kept going, even with the youngest well into their teens. There’s something about that kind of event that allows you to feel like a kid again, and in 20 years I never got tired of it. I hope it’s back this year, even though I’m not there any longer.

So my treat to myself here besides my church-bazaar cookies has been all the holiday musical events. Obviously there were a ton of those in the D.C. area but there was always the hassle factor – did I want to drive all that way, and deal with parking? Here, okay it’s not the Kennedy Center, but there are endless choral and instrumental groups and a lot of the performances are in local churches or at the museums downtown, and on the cheaper end they range from free to, say, $25. (There are more expensive performances, one of which I’m going to on Christmas Eve, but otherwise $25 is my sweet spot.)

I went to hear Christmas carols done with handbells and some impromptu singing at the Presbyterian church on Friday night; we sang “In The Bleak Midwinter” which is one of the loveliest carols ever written, in my opinion. Saturday I went with a friend to a concert at Cristo Rey catholic church which is old and very plain inside and I think it’s gorgeous in addition to having excellent acoustics. Tomorrow night I’m going to a Christmas concert at St. Francis Cathedral downtown. I’m wearing my N95, we’re having a surge of flu/RSV/COVID here, and most other folks were masked as well even though it wasn’t required.

I’ve done a minimal amount of holiday decorating including Christmas Rat shown up top (thanks Anita!) which she gave me years ago after that Thanksgiving when the rats came up from the basement at night and walked on all my pies in the kitchen, what a horror show, although funny now. Also here’s my Christmas cactus blooming like mad, that’s the other photo, isn’t it pretty?!? I rescued it from the trash years ago, I’m a plant-rescuer.

Do you do anything special this time of year? Any special memories?

  • KayKay says:

    Oh I love the Christmas Rat, so cute and the Cactus Blooms are lovely, I wish mine would bloom like that, but alas, my thumb isn’t green enough for that. Our Family always goes a little crazy for the holiday season, I’ve mentioned before our cookie baking tradition on one of Portia’s posts, but other Holiday traditions include making sure we take a drive around town to check out a few neighborhoods nearby that go all out with their light displays, helping pack Christmas boxes at our Church for our Annual Holiday Charity Drive and the highly anticipated Christmas Dinner and Bonfire. Its a busy season, but one meant to be most enjoyed by giving as much as getting.

  • Dina C. says:

    Beautiful Christmas cactus! I can’t for the life of me keep a houseplant alive and thriving. So I admire those who can. I’m all about the music! I’ve been singing in church choir for (gulp) 40 years now. Our group is small and friendly. We sing great music this time of year. I love “In the Bleak Midwinter” too. I have great memories of all the music I’ve sung over the years. My friend and I are the music librarians, so as we file, we run across old favorites and break out into song again and again. It’s fun.:-)

    • March says:

      Oh, a choir! I sang in children’s and youth choir and thought it was fun. I don’t have a great singing voice though. Makes me miss church a bit, especially this time of year, so many great songs!

  • Portia says:

    That cactus looks so happy March.
    We still haven’t put the tree up.
    Your musical adventures sound fun.
    Portia xx

  • cinnamon says:

    Memories are of Xmas decorations in Brooklyn. Just magical. The village church does carols which I used to go to but not the past few years. If it’s outside this year I might go. I don’t decorate much bar the (buxom) tree and an annual amaryllis (white double flower this year) plus, of course, lighting the menorah. A lot of candles come out during the hols and that’s one of my favourite things.

    • March says:

      Candles this time of year seem especially magical. And people do farolitos here (candles in brown paper lunch sacks with sand) outside on Christmas Eve, and there are sets of fake ones with lights on every night outside.

  • alityke says:

    Religious holidays are strange ones when household members work in health care. Holiday time off is to be treasured.
    My family is full of nurses, mum was so I grew up with early responsibilities for prepping & cooking dinner some years.
    Both DH & I were nurses. Out first Christmas as newly weds we spent at my workplace, even though I was a day off, feeding those unable to feed themselves & whose relatives weren’t able to be there.
    As a family we tried to attend the Christingle service with the boys. That marked the start of our Christmas. Followed up by hot chocolate for the boys, a tot of Glenfiddich for DH & a Baileys for me.

    • March says:

      My daughter is a nurse (and before that a CNA) and it’s been the same issue for Christmas, I think my kids are having it on the 27th since she’s working the holiday night shift. But they make it work!

  • Tom says:

    With Covid coming back here and the flu as well, I’m avoiding crowds as much as possible. BH has a fancy light show on the city hall tower that I’ll have to go by and look at. This cold seems to be coming in and out so I’m doing as little as possible. And it’s been raining, so I have excuses to sit with my banking and binge-watch old movies. And for me nothing says Christmas like Faye Dunaway chopping down a tree in a sequined evening dress..

    • March says:

      Yeah, I did give some thought to skipping the music … hospitals here are telling folks not to come to the ER. A little rain sounds nice, actually. We got some snow and it’s super cold here right now. LOL Faye Dunaway!

  • Kathleen says:

    I usually visit my sister in Arizona for Christmas; however, with the new job this year I won’t have time off over the holiday. I had the first week of Dec off, and my sister and I spent a couple of days in Santa Fe. It has been several years since I’ve visited, and I love it as much as always. The history and architecture are beautiful.

    • March says:

      Oh I’m glad you got a chance to visit! It is lovely this time of year … my kids are also doing Christmas gifts late since my daughter who’s a nurse has to work.

  • Tara C says:

    Growing up in San Francisco, my mom and I would get dressed up and go shopping at Union Square and all the fancy stores, watch them light up the big tree, and soak up the atmosphere. We would drive around and look at neighborhood christmas lights, bake cookies and sit around enjoying all our decorations. Fun times. Nowadays it’s just me, the atheist husband and the dog, so very minimal decorations and baking. But now that I’m older I enjoy the quiet time at home, cocooned by the fire.

    • March says:

      I have very fond memories of spending Thanksgiving with a college friend whose family lived in Chicago, going downtown, Marshall Fields etc., it was magical. You’re right though, I also appreciate the quiet this time of year, snugged up at home with the dog.

  • Pam says:

    When the girls were growing up we lived in Atlanta. Every year we went to see The Nutcracker. Now we watch on tv, if possible. Even hearing the music brings back good memories.

    • March says:

      Yep, those kinds of family traditions bring such fond memories! It wasn’t a tradition of ours but I’ve seen the Nutcracker several times and loved it.